VOICE OF JUSTICE
January 1996                          Official Publication of JUSTICE FOR ALL                             Volume 4 Issue 1
"Justice will only be achieved when those who are not injured by crime, feel as indignant as those who are."
-King Solomon 635-577 BC

ANOTHER GRAHAM APPEAL, ANOTHER DENIAL

by Pam Lychner

For the 33rd time, over the past 14 years, Gary Graham has had another appeal denied. The 3rd court of Appeals in Austin (the "Court") correctly denied Graham's demand that the Board of Pardons and Parole (the "Board") grant him a clemency hearing on his claims of innocence. Previously, all other Texas and Federal courts had slammed the door on Graham regarding this issue.

The Court correctly stated that a court of law, not the Board, was the proper arena in which to present actual claims of innocence. In April of 1994, the Court of Criminal Appeals, the highest criminal court in Texas, had established (in Texas ex rela. Holmes v. Court of Appeals for the Third District 885 S.W. 2d 386) a procedure for holding just such a hearing in the appropriate district criminal court. The Court properly stated that it was the district court, not the Board which should provide the possible venue for such a hearing.

However, that 1994 decision was not good enough for Graham and his attorneys. They wanted an additional hearing from the Board AND the hearing in the district court. Graham's attorneys argued that the hearing standards were too high and that Graham could not get a fair opportunity to present their claims.

The Court ruled against Graham in every area, stating that "the Board determines whether a prisoner is entitled to clemency as a matter of grace (not right or privilege) ....". In 1993, the Board had already voted 12 - 5 against holding a hearing for Graham. Now in January, 1996, the Court finally has stated that the Board shall not be forced to do so.

In its decision, the Court noted "the well settled proposition that our State Constitution may provide greater protection for individual rights than the United States Constitution". The gruesome reality is that not only does Texas grant superior rights to the accused and the guilty, it does so at the expense of the civil and human rights of victims and other citizens.

While the Graham case may have set the standard for a condemned man's manipulation of an absurd criminal justice system, it still represents only one case in a national system gone mad. Once the great beacon of due process in the world, the United States has perverted its criminal justice system into a rancid game of give the most vile criminal the most extraordinary due process and forget justice while the victims, the citizens and the nation get screwed.

In addition to our most precious "the accused shall be deemed innocent until proven guilty", I strongly suggest that we have already added, informally, "the accused shall be set free upon being found guilty". Absurd you say? According to Professor John DiIulio, Jr. (Princeton University and The Brookings Institute), of the 6.6 million violent crimes committed in 1992, only 100,000 persons, or 1.5%, were sentenced to a year or more in jail.

And what of Graham?

I must admit; Graham's attorneys are right. The standards for the new hearing procedure have been set too high - for Graham. Graham's attorneys forgot, perhaps, that a hearing's success is based on the credibility of the evidence, not on the ranting and ravings of a Hollywood inspired propaganda campaign.

JUSTICE FOR ALL has produced an exhaustive 20 page report on the lies and abuses of the pro-Graham movement. The report: HOLLYWOOD, MURDER AND TEXAS - Death Row Inmate Gary Graham and the Anti-Death Penalty Movement, A Case Study of Lies, Half-Truths and Intimidation is available by request. A $5.00 donation is requested to defray the cost of research and printing.



OH, GIVE ME A HOME, WHERE THE BUFFALO ROAM!

An Editorial by Sterlene Donahue

I truly am an animal lover. I have two cats, a fish and an iguana. If I had the space available, I would also have dogs, pigs, horses, chickens and the like. So it was with much dismay that I read the Houston Chronicle headline "A Butchered Buffalo" by Thaddeus Herrick from the Houston Chronicle San Antonio Bureau.

It seems that a "disturbed" San Antonio area man was arrested for butchering a 1,500 lb. buffalo at a Hill Country wildlife park. The individual, a 35 year old man from Helotes, Texas was on PAROLE at the time for slaughtering a prize breeding bull and some cattle at a Hill Country ranch. He even earned his UNDERGRADUATE DEGREE while serving time in prison in Huntsville.

At any rate, I was sickened to think that this individual had decapitated and skinned this prized and cherished animal; but as I read further, I was outraged to see that his bond had been set at $1,000,000!! Divina Nicole Henderson, the woman who killed Michael George (Laura George's son) was given $10,000 (appeal) bond. The man who killed Tex, my beautiful son, had bond set at $10,000. What does this tell us? Maybe we should be raising cattle instead of children? Could it be that Texas has archaic laws and misplaced values? Maybe we've just accepted the murder of a human as commonplace and unless the murder is unconscionably gruesome, it just doesn't get our attention.

I'm not sure just what the problem is, but I can tell you this: until our justice system and elected officials put as much value on human life as they do their prize-winning cattle and exotic animals, the slaughter of humans will continue. Furthermore, I won't stop raising children, not will I stop raising hell with those who can fix what's broken: the whole Texas judicial system.



 LOOKING BACK  

JUSTICE FOR ALL has been in operation for little over two years and we have come a long way. In retrospect, none of JFA's accomplishments would have been possible without your support. Look at what we have done in such a short period of time.


 THOUGHTS OF THE PRISON TOUR 
by Lee Wells Flowers

On Thursday, January 4, 1996, eight members of Justice For All, including Criminal Judge Jan Krocker, spent the entire day on a very comprehensive tour of the Walls Prison and Death Row (Eastham Unit) in Huntsville, Texas.

In the past I, wrongly, avoided going on these type of prison tours that many of you have experienced, for a myriad of reasons that range from fear, emotional and health concerns (reports of rampant T.B., AIDS, etc. inside the prisons due to the close quarters). Well, I now have a true picture and understanding of what the prison system really is and because of this, I believe, a better ability to do the work that we all are involved in because of all of the incorrect information being set aside. Our group was very inquisitive and really did learn a lot.

The Warden II, of the Walls Unit, Neil Hodges, concurred with me that the prison there was very much like a small town or community with he being its Mayor. This community has super structure and security, of course. The inmates, its residents, in almost all cases, contrary to what we hear, have jobs and you see them going to and from their work areas and around and about to various places within the compound such as rehabilitation sessions, school, the infirmary, etc. Most of them eat in the cafeteria areas and the food, while certainly not gourmet fare, is quite decent, as are the portions. They rarely have beef and when they do, it is ground. Since the Eastham Unit boasts one of the largest hog farms in the state of Texas, they do have a lot of pork.

Warden Hodges told us that nearly all of his men have jobs and those that feel too bad to work are given the duty of polishing all of the brass bars at one of the Walls Unit entrances. They get to feeling a lot better after a day or two of that he says!

Having the inmates work while incarcerated serves a two-fold purpose. Number one is in the resultant money savings to the State for prison operations (tax dollars) and in the rehabilitation of these inmates in preparing them for the outside so that they may work gainfully and thus, avoid the thought of criminal acts, hopefully. How many times have we heard these people say that "we had no other option but to steal, etc. to survive." Learning trades in prison and earning money for the prison is a smart idea that seems positive.

We toured the mill where they take the cotton the prison grows, clean and dry it and then spin it into thread and fiber for the manufacture of uniforms, towels, mops, etc. The furniture manufacturing plant was very impressive and the quality was as good as anything we could purchase for our homes. We learned that the prison makes almost all of the furniture for the State of Texas facilities such as book cases, desks, entertainment centers, beds, etc. The beds are quite attractive and are used in State Orphanages. The prison has large contracts with the State to completely refurbish its old school buses. This is quite lucrative when you realize the purchase of a new school bus is from a low of $40,000 to $60,000 on the average and the prison can turn a refurbished model out for $20,000. The inmates will have little problem finding work in this type of trade since there is always a great demand for these skills.

We met the Dean of Education and he told us that it is an accepted fact that education is the most important rehabilitation tool they have in the prison system. The average grade completed by inmates entering the system is little past grade six so they try to see that these people get their GED's and they now have ways to see that they participate in becoming literate to assist in surviving on the outside upon release. They recently implemented a process of assisting them in how to fill out pre-employment applications, proper demeanor on job interviews and direct them to companies that are receptive to the hiring of inmates. We were told that our tax dollars no longer fund inmate education and the inmates must pay for it now. They detailed the methods of making them pay and it seems like it will work, actually. This includes all education; GED and college.  The recidivism rates improve with inmate education and this is a fact of life.

Each evening the inmates are locked up in small, crude, ugly cells and this is as it should be, I believe. There is a television for every three cells that is placed in the hallway area. The three cell units must vote on what they should watch. A lot of people believe the inmate population should not have television access and I was one of them. I now realize the importance of giving them something or these people can become even more sociopathic in many cases if deprived totally. We are the ones that will suffer in the long run.  Think about what happens if you take a dog and chain it with little or no comfort or recreation. It becomes a creature that no one would want to reckon with as a result.

Lock up is merely having a steel door brought down to cover the entire portion of their cell with but a small glass window for the guards to look in when checking on them. The food is the same, they still receive recreation although limited and this lock up period lasts for fifteen days and then they must be allowed out on regular time for seventy-two hours and may be placed back if the inmate's behavior has not improved for another fifteen days as long as they have the seventy-two hour break.

Some of the men request total segregation and may receive it if the prison officials believe their lives could be in danger because of the particular heinousness of their crimes (Rex Mayes is an example).

The chapel within the prison is considered to be one of the effective rehabilitation processes and outside clergy regularly visit and work with the inmates. The warden said having church services in anything other than a real chapel type environment does not work well (many prisons use gymnasiums and such and do not have actual chapels). For many of these inmates, church and some preaching sounds pretty good compared to sitting in their cells. In many cases, some of these inmates are actually able to be reached, spiritually. For every one that is reached, we on the outside benefit.

I was so surprised to learn that most of the guards that work at the prisons do not have guns. The reason is so that inmates cannot take the guns and we all know what can happen if they did. The guards that we met, as well as all of the prison personnel, were so very impressive. The warden is tough as he must be and has a unique personality that they say all wardens in the prison system share. They have one of the absolute toughest jobs a person could have. The warden lets the new inmates coming in know exactly what is expected of them and they can have an easy time or a terrible time while in his charge. It is up to them as to whether they "toe the line" or not. This discipline is absolute. This warden assured us that there would be no verbal abuses directed toward us while we were there and after all I had heard from others on prison tours, did not expect it to happen. We were impressed.

There were two very poignant moments on the tour. The first was as we walked down through death row, seeing Bob Carriero stand face to face with his daughter's murderer, Rex Mayes. I cannot describe the thirty second confrontation.  I will never forget it. The second was while standing in the death chamber with a hand on the gurney. I looked up and saw the partition dividing the witness viewing area already in place for that first victim to have their rights in place if they choose that option they so deserve.

Visiting the prison gave me a renewed enthusiasm and hope to continue the work with all of you at Justice For All in the VICTIM RIGHTS MOVEMENT!



TRAGEDY STRIKES RURAL COMMUNITY OF CROSBY

It was Thursday night, November 16th, 1995 when Willy Prochazka was working late at his family-owned restaurant, Port Royal Restaurant in Crosby, a small community just east of Houston.  He was preparing shrimp to serve at a catered meal for a corporate customer. He probably never heard the two intruders as they stole their way into the restaurant. At his home, his wife, Angel Lee Prochazka, was anxiously waiting for her husband to come home. Around 9:00 pm she became a little disappointed because he was staying later than he said that he would, mainly because it was their 38th wedding anniversary. She called the restaurant, but there was no answer. She told herself, "Well, he's on his way home." The business was only ten minutes away and after about fifteen she became a little concerned. After another attempt at calling with no response, she drove to the restaurant to find the car parked in front and all the lights on is the building. After she entered, she found Willy lying in a puddle of blood that was coming from the back of his swollen and bruised head.  He was still breathing so she telephoned a local ambulance service and her sons; she was able to get Richard.  Richard arrived at the same time as the ambulance. It took two days for Willy to die. He had been struck in the back of the head with a baseball bat.

The offenders were caught some time later. The youngest was overheard in a convenience store, bragging of their feats and joking about the fact that they heard the skull crack when they struck him. This lead to the arrest of two 18 year-olds, who were charged with capital murder, and one juvenile, whose hearing was on January 10.

Justice For All will continue monitoring this case as it goes through the system and will keep you informed of its progress.  The members at JFA regret what this family is going through. We have seen these scenarios all too many times.

This issue is dedicated to the Memory of WILLIE PROCHAZKA, husband of AngelLee,
father of James, Richard, Janice and Thomas.



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